Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Poem: "Grave" by Billy Collins

We are on vacation - our fourth without Josh.  I keep thinking what he would be doing if he were with us.  For example - would he have gotten up to play morning rounds of golf or hiked the mountain or would he have wanted to sleep in?  Probably the latter.   I know he would've loved The Dark Knight Rises, the new Batman movie that Gillian and I saw yesterday.  We did some shopping at the outlet stores before the movie; it is still hard for me to walk through the men's section in places like The Gap.   There are too many things that I can picture him wearing. 

While at a bookstore in Wellesley, MA, the title of a collection of poems, Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins caught my eye.  He was the US Poet Laureate from 2001 - 2003 and the Poet Laureate of NY from 2004 - 2006.  His poems are refreshingly accessible; written about everyday events in everyday language, albeit in surprising, witty and whimsical ways.

This is the first poem in the collection - poignant and touching.

by Billy Collins

What do you think of my new glasses
I asked as I stood under a shade tree
before the joined grave of my parents,

and what followed was a long silence
that descended on the rows of the dead
and on the fields and the woods beyond,

one of the one hundred kinds of silence
according to the Chinese belief,
each one distinct from the others,

but the differences being so faint
that only a few special monks
were able to tell them all apart.

They make you look very scholarly,
I heard my mother say
once I lay down on the ground

and pressed an ear into the soft grass.
Then I rolled over and pressed
my other ear to the ground,

the ear my father likes to speak into,
but he would say nothing,
and I could not find a silence

among the 100 Chinese silences
that would fit the one that he created
even though I was the one

who had just made up the business
of the 100 Chinese silences -
the Silence of the Night Boat

and the Silence of the Lotus, 
cousin to the Silence of the Temple Bell
only deeper and softer, like petals, at its farthest edges.

RIP Josh - forever loved and missed.

1 comment:

GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

Thank you for sharing this poem. I wasn't familiar with Billy Collins' poetry, but now I'll look into it.